In my last post, I talked about stashing away special drawing treasures to give your inner artist a treat, but there are lots of great drawings waiting to be discovered all around you too. Thimbles, silverware, candles, coins, mugs, small toys, tools, fruit, and all the everyday things you’re so used to that you don’t see anymore make lovely drawings if you know a few tricks.
Themed or unexpected groupings.
Odd numbers are more interesting than even so choose three or five objects, but make sure they vary in height for extra interest. Keep your selections in the same theme, choose them by shape, or look for textures. Choosing by texture only creates unexpected and exciting groupings, like a tool, an orange, and a small toy.
Lighting either makes a still life beautiful or saps the life right out of it. Harsh light kills subtle body shadows, creates cast shadows with no detail, and makes highlights that are too light. Too little light makes a drawing look flat and strains your eyes too.
You need one main light source that’s above and slightly to one side of the grouping. If you’re right handed, sit the light on your left side and vice-versa if you’re left handed. With this arrangement, your hand won’t cast a shadow over the drawing.
A table lamp on an end table makes a very good lighting source, and a floor lamp the right height works too. When your subjects cast well defined shadows and take on a sense of depth, you’ve got things right.
Arrange with care.
After the lighting is right, sit down in your drawing position and move the found things into different arrangements. Make them overlap a bit, or use a cast shadow to unite the group. (The shadows are part of the composition too!) If they won’t stay put, a little smear of modeling clay will keep them in place. I keep some Play-Doh around for that. (That IS why I have all those cans of Play-Doh. Really.)
Ready, set, draw!
Now you’re ready to draw, with one warning. Keep your drawing tablet at an angle. I drew an apple on a pad of paper held flat in my lap one time, and the drawing only looked good when viewed from that angle. When looked at upright, the apple was incredibly elongated! (I wish I had saved that drawing … lol … it was amazing in its own way.)
If you only have time to do a quick drawing, place a small flat object on the drawing tablet and draw right beside it at life size. (No tablet angling required.) Take measurements directly from it as you go. If you have cats or small children in the house, or you might need to move for some reason, I advise using the Play-Doh trick again.
I think it was Julia Cameron who first suggested that our inner artist is like a child, and if you let yourself see the world through you inner artist’s eyes, everything becomes fascinating and filled with possibilities. The joy of drawing comes from within.